Tag Archives: Tasmanian History

Weekend Coffee Share: 9th April, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee  Share!

Our TV was disconnected this week so No. 1 son could get his assignments finished. While I could’ve questioned why the rest of us had to miss out on his account, you won’t find any complaints here. Indeed, I felt liberated and was delighted to see him reading his book and we got back to having dinner at the kitchen table. That had lapsed over the hot Summer when we escaped into the air-conditioned lounge room. It’s now time to move back. After only one family dinner around the table, I could see the difference as we discussed so much and started to moved closer to the same page. With so many comings and goings and these only intensifying as the kids get older, the family dinner as corny as it sounds, is worth fighting for.

The other thing about turning the TV back on, is hearing the news.

Our condolences to the people of Sweden.

This past week, was the last week of term one for the kids. This saw our son frantically needing to finish off some assignments, which had lagged after he’d  been sick for about a month. We also had open week at the dance studio. I felt so privileged to be able to watch my daughter’s classes and  also see her teachers’ dance. I have become intrigued at how it could well be the seemingly little things which differentiate a good and great dancer. That how you point your foot or hold your hands, and smile while dancing, make an enormous difference. I could well be a case of “take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.”

I spent the day at the studio yesterday. My daughter is now in Dance Team and they put on more of a performance and the students taking privates, performed their solos. Naturally, performing in the studio, is a great stepping stone, easing them into public performances. Contrary to the stereotype of very extroverted performers dominating the creative arts, I find so many creatives are actually exceptionally sensitive, intuitive and can find performing excruciatingly difficult. From what I’ve seen the likes of Sia, who doesn’t want to show her face in public, aren’t the exception. So, well done to all the students who got out there and performed their magic. I loved each and every performance.

Anyway, after a very stressful week and feeling so relaxed watching the dancing on Friday night, I decided to do my taxi runs and dinner and head back. My daughter decided not to join me as she needed to unwind. Said she’d be trying to work out the steps in her head and being a serious observer. I told her that I would be doing the same thing. That said, my expectations of being able to are set at a realistic zero, where she has aspirations. Huge aspirations which seem to be getting bigger and bigger by the day and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for “mortal mum” to keep up. I’m still trying to get one foot in front of the other and am thankful I have a place for my car keys.

Last week, my Alphabetical Tour Around Tasmania for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge continued. So Far, we’ve been to:

map_of_tasmania

Theme Reveal

A- Ashgrove Farm (Here’s the cheese!)

B-Bridport.

C- Convict Brick Trail, Campbell Town.

D- Doo Town, Eaglehawk Neck.

E- Eaglehawk Neck.

F- Ferndene, Penguin.

G- Gordon River Cruises

It’s been fantastic to revisit our holiday and a timely reminder to keep putting the photos away, reprint some more and write up some kind of family journal. After all, this was no ordinary holiday. My husband is Tasmanian and his roots go back as early as the 1830s. So, we had a lot to catch up on as well as checking out the usual tourist spot and nature escapes.

I’d love you to join us on this epic journey.

Well, I hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catching up!

The Weekend Coffee Share was created by Part Time Monster .  Thank you Diana for all the great Coffee Shares in the past!  If you haven’t heard, the Coffee Share is now hosted by Nerd in the Brain.  Thank you Emily!  You can join this week’s Coffee Share on her blog or by clicking on the “Linkup Linky“.  In fact, I encourage you to click on the “linky” to see what’s been going on in the lives of other bloggers and even join us if you haven’t before….Trent put this too well to come up with something better myself!

Love & Best wishes,

Rowena

E- Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania: A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to Day Five of the A-Z April Challenge.

Despite my best intentions of darting haphazardly across Tasmania in our Alphabetical Tour, so far we’ve been travelling in a fairly direct route.  We started out at Ashgrove Cheese at Elizabeth Town, moved onto Bridport in the North-East, down to Campbell Town and then onto Doo Town on Eaglehawk Neck, South of Hobart near the historic convict prison, Port Arthur.

 

Today, we’re staying close and exploring the broader region of Eaglehawk Neck. Not that Eaglehawk Neck, as its name suggests, is a vast expanse.

The Eaglehawk Neck is a narrow isthmus that connects the Tasman Peninsula with the Forestier Peninsula, and hence to mainland Tasmania. A township settlement in the same region is also called Eaglehawk Neck. Locally known as the Neck, the isthmus itself is around 400 metres (1,300 ft) long and under 30 metres (98 ft) wide at its narrowest point[1].

The area features rugged terrain and several unusual geological formations. These include the Tessellated Pavement, Tasman’s Arch, the Blowhole and the Devil’s Kitchen.

Map Bridport to Eaglehawk Neck

These days when you visit the Neck, you’re immediately struck by its natural beauty and if you hadn’t already heard about the the Dog Line, which was set up to prevent convicts from Port Arthur escaping, you find out about it quick once you visit the area. There’s even a statue.

DSC_2004

A Great Place For Pizza.

However, what I didn’t know about until I started searching old newspapers today, was about Tasmania’s “Black War” and while I had read about the Black Line over the last couple of months, I didn’t really know what it was.

Indeed, I studied Australian History at university and even did my Honours and I hadn’t heard anything about this. I only remember seeing a “video” about the “primitive” Tasmanian Aborigines and how they were so backward they didn’t even fire. This video, not unsurprisingly, failed to mention any of their strengths.

We were also taught that Truganini was the last “full” Tasmanian, and this also appears to be incorrect.
Since I’m obviously no authority on the subject given that I only stumbled on it today, I’m not going to explore this war in further detail here. However, I’ve included a newspaper account from 1886:

EAGLEHAWK NECK, TASMAN’S PENINSULA.

Apart from its picturesqueness, which is of  no mean order, Eaglehawk Neck is mainly memorable as the scene of that gigantic and yet fruitless enterprises ever undertaken by Tasmania, known as the Black War. In the early days of the colony the settlers had experienced but little trouble from the blacks, but as time went on the continued to increase in the number of convicts let loose had its result.. Accustomed to brutality and acts of violence, they repeated them on the unfortunate natives to an incredible extent. Their children were kidnapped, men and women were shot down indiscriminately on the slightest pretext; in fact a blackfellow hunt was looked upon as one of the pastimes of the day. No cruelty was too great to be inflicted on them, and in the words of the ‘historian West, who describes one of the frequent midnight raids “The wounded were brained ; the infant cast into the flames ; the bayonet was driven into the quivering flesh; the social ‘ fire ‘ around which the natives gathered to slumber became before morning their funeral pile.’ This infamous treatment bore its’ fruit. Savage murders were committed in retaliation, the maddened blacks sparing neither friend nor foe in their thirst for revenge; and to such a degree had the war between the two races reached, that Governor Arthur, finding it impossible either to conciliate the blacks or re strain the outrages of the convict element of the populace, determined making that gigantic coup-de-main known as the Black Line. The object of the undertaking was to establish a cordon from one end of the island to the other, and drive the hostile tribes on to what is known as Tasman’s Peninsula, where they would be finally secured. How the plan failed is now a matter of history, but it suffices to say that although there were in all about 3000 persons engaged in maintaining the line, yet the sole result of the expedition was the capture, in an accidental way, of one man, and a boy. Thus ended the Black War of 1830, an undertaking which cost upwards of ‘£50,000. Illustrated Australian News (Melbourne, Vic. : 1876 – 1889), Saturday 18 September 1886, page 154

Obviously, I’ve uncovered a huge area for further research, which I intend to follow-up soon. My son will also be studying what is now referred to as the invasion of Australia and it would be good to catch up.

Meanwhile, even my very basic gleanings here, remind me of the importance of writing about what we don’t know, don’t understand and use writing as a learning experience. That writing becomes a way of extending ourselves when we break free of that old adage: “write about what you know”and being a very limited expert in your pencil-thin ivory tower.

It’s important to remain curious.

After all, what I’m starting to notice is so-called smart kids, is an unquenchable curiosity with its endless complex questions. There’s a constant quest to find out rather than the “I know”.

Moreover, if we only ever write about what we know, we’ll never grow!

However, we would have well-formulated paragraphs, conclusions and some idea of what we’re writing about. We’d be feeling confident and knowledgeable, in our comfort zones and let’s face it…who likes getting lost, even if it is only in your head or on paper. It feels so much better to know, doesn’t it!!

So, goodness knows what else we’re going to find on this somewhat crazy Alphabetical Journey Around Tasmania. Bring it on!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Further Reading:

http://theconversation.com/tasmanias-black-war-a-tragic-case-of-lest-we-remember-25663

http://theconversation.com/noted-works-the-black-war-29344

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Warhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_War

References

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eaglehawk_Neckhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eaglehawk_Neckhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eaglehawk_Neck

Victim or Victor: The Lessons of Gallipoli 100 Years On.

One hundred years on, were the ANZACS of Gallipoli victims or victors? Moreover, what does the spirit of ANZAC mean today as we ride through our own battles… victims or victors?

While this sounds like something you’d come across in a high school history exam, I’ve been pondering these complex questions today as we commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the ANZACs landing at Gallipoli.

By the way, ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. On the 25th April, 1915 the ANZACSs landed at Gallipoli, launching a doomed and brutal campaign. On the 25th April of ANZAC Day each year, Australians commemorate the sacrifices made by Australians in all theatres of war. Traditionally, we wear a sprig of Rosemary for remembrance and either attend a march or watch on TV and we also bake  the ANZAC Biscuits. These were sent in care packages to the soldiers on the front .

Scouts marching to the ANZAC Day Dawn Service.

Scouts marching to the ANZAC Day Dawn Service.

Being the 100th anniversary, as you could imagine there have been a plethora of commemorations and people turned out in absolute droves to ANZAC Day marches all around Australia and even travelled to Gallipoli. This morning, our kids were marching to the Dawn Service at the local cenotaph with their Scout group. Geoff was taxi and I was photographer. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m quite a night owl and night owls have something of an anaphylactic reaction to seeing the sun rise so it wasn’t easy for me to get moving. At the same time, despite my health issues and lack of sleep, I didn’t think I could bail out. Shame! Shame! Shame! Our boys sacrificed their lives and quality of life for us to know freedom and yet I couldn’t get out of bed? Yes, I was up and out the door with the family long before the birds and I was really looking forward to being a part of it all. The kids were also looking forward to meeting the old diggers. They love seeing their medals and hearing their stories. I just need to keep reminding them that they’re medals and not “badges”.

Dawn breaking after the commemorative service.

Dawn breaking after the commemorative service.

So, when the alarm went off at 4 am this morning and I staggered out of bed after only 4 hours sleep, I really had to slap myself. Remind myself what it was like for the ANZACS who landed under the cloak of darkness at ANZAC Cove on the 25th April, 1916. They not only had to get up and out the door long before sunrise but dress and psyche themselves up for battle. Prepare themselves for the possibility and in the case of the Gallipoli, the near certainty, of death. As if going into battle wasn’t hard enough, after an initial tow into shore, the ANZAC actually had to row into the beach. This was pretty tough going. The sort of thing, as my Dad would say, puts serious hair on your chest. But wait, there’s more. There they are rowing through the icy waters in absolute darkness not out in the backyard where everything is familiar but in a foreign country with a foreign tongue and showers of bullets pouring down on the beach. Although the first arrivals might have had that element of surprise, subsequent arrivals did not and the casualties were high.

Australian Troops in front of the pyramids in Egypt.

Australian Troops in front of the pyramids in Egypt.This photo was part of the display in the school library.

As I reflect on it all now, even those with a heightened sense of adventure, would have known that sense of terror and yet they went forward. Wave after wave after wave and with each succeeding wave, the horror of witnessing those who have just died in front of their very own eyes, smacking them straight in the face. Yet, they went on. Men of such courage and valour…lambs going to the slaughter…yet, they fought on. 8,709 Australians lost their lives at Gallipoli.

Volumes have been written about the failed Gallipoli campaign and how Australian nationhood and a sense of Australian mate ship and national character were forged in the battlefields of Gallipoli.

In so many ways, it’s hard to understand why Gallipoli is almost deified in Australian history, culture and political speeches (and rants!). I swear any other country would be celebrating its victories, not it’s defeats. Indeed, in comparision to the Gallipoli Campaign, Australia’s incredible contribution towards victory on the Western Front, is rather underplayed and seems to be something of a PS on every ANZAC Day.

However, in a country characterized by drought, flood, deadly poisonous reptiles and the likes of the Great White Shark, much of our identity has been forged by hardship, loss and indeed loss of life. Being Australian is almost synonymous with living with and overcoming adversity.

A few years ago, we found out that my husband’s Great Uncle, Major James Griffin, had fought at Gallipoli with the 3rd Australian Lighthorse. Born in Moltema in Rural NW Tasmania, Uncle Jim arrived at Gallipoli on the 12th May, 1915…two and a half weeks after the first landing. Uncle Jim survived the war but died well before my husband was even born. This means that we don’t have any personal stories, insights or letters relating to his time in Gallipoli. However, Geoff has inherited a handful of photos of men in military uniform including Uncle Jim and his brother, Uncle Dan, who Geoff did meet. Geoff didn’t grow up really being consciously aware of their war time service and we only found out the details of his war service a few years ago after his service records went online. I should point out that this could well have been more than the code of silence. Geoff’s grandmother, their sister, passed away when Geoff’s father was only around eight and there was also physical distance involved as well.

8,709 Australians died at Gallipoli.

While we have been touched to find a close family connection with Gallipoli and I’m intermittently trying to retrace James and Daniel Griffin’s footsteps, today my research deviated yet again…another twist in the road and I was thinking about and exploring something else…a story about two brothers. Indeed, a story of a younger brother following in his older, much taller brother’s footsteps. On the 19th September, 1915 Daniel Griffin enlisted with the Third Lighthorse at Claremont, Tasmania. That’s around 5 months after his brother disembarked at Gallipoli and by the time he steamed out of Melbourne on the 28 October 1915 onboard the SS Hawkes Bay, the first casualties from Gallipoli had started trickling back to Australia.

While letters home could well have concealed the true nature of war, the graphic image of the war wounded arriving back testified to the horrors of war and yet still men went…women too.

This is what it really means to be brave…to be courageous. To know what you are up against yet still take up the fight. That’s what turns you into a victor, even if you lose the battle because at least you’ve fought the fight. Had a go and done your best.

When newspapers reported the first casualties of the Gallipoli campaign returned to Australia, they mentioned welcomed home ceremonies. These men were heroes, even though the Gallipoli campaign itself was an utter, utter failure. There was no talk about “woe is them” or “pity” just gratitude for the sacrifice they’d made and an excitement that they were back home. Also, the community was incredibly thankful for the sacrifice they’d made. These proud men were anything but victims and they certainly weren’t whingeing and selling their tales of woe to the highest bidder, like you see today. They had their dignity and commanded respect. That said, these were changed men. Ultimately, the Allies won the won the war. Quite aside from any physical injuries, many returned home shell-shocked or what we now refer to as PTSD. These victors were also victims.

I know this is fast forwarding very crudely but after the pre-dawn start, I’m beyond tired and am needing to get this posted. So even though it’s a bit of a leap to the end of the war, I wanted to leave you with an interesting story I found about Geoff’s grandmother, Molly Griffin, sister to Major James and Daniel Griffin. She was the school teacher in Mt Hicks.

MT HICKS BONFIRES.

The signing of the armistice was celebrated at Mt. Hicks on Tuesday night. A large bonfire was lit on the highest point of the mount. Cr. Jones said a few words appropriate to tho occasion, and concluded ‘ by announcing that there was an effigy of the Kaiser hidden somewhere, in the paddock, but the young ladies of Mt. Hicks requested that they should have the first privilege of dealing with it. The ladies then made a search, and soon drew the Kaiser from his place of hiding, marched him to the bonfire, and committed him to the flames amid much rejoicing! An adjournment was then made to an adjoining paddock, where two stacks of old straw stood; these had been given by Mr Horace Cross for the purpose of making other bonfires, and they were soon alight, the flames illuminating the surrounding country. The children were supplied with fireworks by Miss Griffin, and a time of rejoicing was spent by all present.

The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times (Tas. : 1899 – 1919)Friday 15 November 1918 p 3 Article

Trying to address this topic for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge was being too ambitious but as the saying goes: “it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”. Through just trying to sort out sufficient details to write this short piece, involved quite a lot of research and a much greater appreciation of what our armed forces went through. When I think of those young men rowing through the dark and freezing waters of a foreign country when most of us say we can’t get going in the morning without our coffee or some other pick-me-up and it is incredibly humbling. I can get quite anxious about my driving or changes such as our son starting high school next year and these can be quite paralyzing and yet our troops couldn’t be paralyzed. They had to keep going. Keep their wits about them and move through the greatest fear most of us face…dying…and come out fighting.

Poppies of remembrance. Lest we forget.

Poppies of remembrance. Lest we forget.

I have been left with a much, much deeper sense of what these incredibly brave and courageous young men went through and I thank them and their families from the very bottom of my heart.

Lest we forget!

xx Rowena

PS This post is very much a work in progress. If you have found any historical inaccuracies, please let me know. I’d really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I’ve pretty much had to write this on the run.